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  • Writer's pictureVingt Sept

Lucian Freud exhibition: arriving in London for 2022

lucian freud national gallery
Reflection with Two Children (Self-portrait) Lucian Freud 1965 © The Lucian Freud Archive / Bridgeman Images/photo Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

The National Gallery will stage a landmark exhibition to mark the centenary of the birth of the great 20th-century artist Lucian Freud (1922-2011.)

This first major survey of his paintings for 10 years will bring together a large selection of his most important works from across seven decades – spanning early works such as Girl with Roses (British Council Collection) from the 1940s; to Reflection with Two Children (Self-Portrait) (Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid) in the 1960s and right through to his famous late works.

Freud's celebrity has often stood in the way of critical consideration of the artist’s work and the historical contexts in which it was made. This exhibition seeks to present new perspectives on Freud’s art, focusing on his tireless and ever-searching commitment to the medium of painting.

From his most intimate pictures to his celebrated large-scale canvases, The Credit Suisse Exhibition – Lucian Freud: New Perspectives will give visitors the opportunity to see the astonishing range of work and the remarkable artistic development of one of Britain's finest figurative painters.

Demonstrating acute awareness of his artistic predecessors, Freud’s painting astutely reflects the history of art. Portraits of sitters clutch flowers in the manner of Hans Holbein (1497/8 - 1543); interiors are informed by Surrealism; couples hold hands reminiscent of Renaissance friendship portraits.

With paintings of the powerful, such as HM Queen Elizabeth II (c.1999-2001, lent by Her Majesty The Queen from the Royal Collection) the artist positioned himself in the tradition of historic Court Painters, such as Rubens (1577-1640) or Velázquez (1599-1660), all the while paying unflinching attention to everyday sitters, including his own mother, poignantly documented at the end of her life.

Freud often framed his subjects in domestic settings and in his paint-splattered studio, a place that became both stage and subject of his paintings in its own right. Showing how Freud's practice changed throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries, the exhibition culminates in some of Freud's monumental nude portraits, revelling in the representation of the human form.

The Credit Suisse Exhibition – Lucian Freud: New Perspectives will include more than 60 loans from museums and major private collections around the world including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate; the British Council Collection; London and the Arts Council Collection, London.

A devoted connoisseur of European painting and regular visitor since his earliest days in London, Lucian Freud had a close association with the National Gallery. ‘I use the gallery as if it were a doctor,’ Freud told the journalist Michael Kimmelman. ‘I come for ideas and help – to look at situations within paintings, rather than whole paintings. Often these situations have to do with arms and legs, so the medical analogy is actually right.’

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Girl with Rose Lucian Freud 1947-8 © The Lucian Freud Archive / Bridgeman Images Courtesy of the British Council Collection. Photo © The British Council

In 1987, he curated an edition of the Gallery’s famous Artist’s Eye exhibitions. Selecting nearly thirty masterpieces from Chardin to Vuillard, the artist wrote: ‘What do I ask of a painting? I ask it to astonish, disturb, seduce, convince.’

For Encounters - New Art from Old (2000), for which the National Gallery invited 25 artists to pick images from the permanent collection to engage with and create new work, Freud chose Chardin's The Young Schoolmistress as his inspiration for his etching After Chardin.

In the 2016 exhibition Painters' Paintings: From Freud to Van Dyck the artist’s Self Portrait: Reflection (2002) and the nude portrait, After Breakfast (2001) were displayed alongside Corot’s Italian Woman, or Woman with Yellow Sleeve (L'Italienne) (about 1870.)

The Corot, from Freud’s own collection, was then given to the Gallery following the artist’s death through the Acceptance in Lieu scheme.

He also supported the successful 2008 fundraising campaign by the National Gallery and National Galleries of Scotland to jointly acquire Titian’s Diana and Actaeon (1556–9) and Diana and Callisto (1556–9), saying: 'How is it that these paintings, which are as effortless as Matisse, affect you more than any tragedy? Everything they contain is there for the viewer's pleasure. It hardly matters what is going on. The water, the dogs, the people, though they are involved with each other, are there to please us. To me, these are simply the most beautiful pictures in the world. Once you've seen them you want to see them again and again.'

The Credit Suisse Exhibition – Lucian Freud: New Perspectives is curated by Daniel F. Herrmann, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Projects at the National Gallery in collaboration with Paloma Alarcó, Chief Curator of Modern Painting, Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. David Dawson, from the Lucian Freud Archive, has provided generous advice.

Daniel F. Herrmann, Curator of The Credit Suisse Exhibition – Lucian Freud: New Perspectives, says: 'With an unflinching eye and an uncompromising commitment to his work, Freud created figurative masterpieces that continue to inspire contemporary artists today. His practice has often been overshadowed by biography and celebrity. In this exhibition, we offer new perspectives on the artist’s work looking closely at Freud’s mastery of painting itself and the contexts in which it developed.'

The exhibition is organised by the National Gallery and the Museo Nacional Thyssen- Bornemisza, Madrid. It will be shown at the Thyssen from 14 February 2023 to 18 June 2023, following its display at the National Gallery.

The Credit Suisse Exhibition – Lucian Freud: New Perspectives

1 October 2022 - 22 January 2023

The National Gallery

Admission charge

For further information please visit HERE


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